Dads, eating your veggies is so very important to the healthy development of our children and, while we all know that, sometimes you don’t even feel like going through the hassle of trying to get them to eat those leafy greens. It’s sooo much easier to just order a pizza and tell yourself, “It has tomato sauce… that’s a veggie right? So, they’re getting their vegetables!” Yeah, been there. Done that. The truth though is that like many things, the key to getting children to eat vegetables is to set the example (something I was terrible at doing when my children were knee high to a turnip).
Can we get real for a moment? When I first had my children almost 16 years ago, I. HATED. VEGGIES! I can’t say that I’m a huge fan of them today, but as I’ve grown, so have my tastes. It’s odd, but about 8 years ago I suddenly began craving things I’d never previously had a taste for. I can remember one day thinking to myself, “I really want to eat a red or yellow bell pepper?” Subsequently, I wondered to myself if I was possessed and that was the voice of the veggie demon but, alas, it was me. And I had that yellow pepper shortly thereafter… and enjoyed it.
I wanted to share a little background because I’ve been invited to join a parent panel, focused on some very good things. I’m teaming up with the folks at Hidden Valley Ranch to help encourage families to get those veggies into their diets, but more importantly, to work with local chefs to raise awareness of the need for healthy foods and veggies in school lunches. You can read more about the Love Your Veggies campaign HERE.
To kick things off, I thought I’d share with you some tips on how you, DAD, can get those little ones to turn their chompers loose on some of the healthy crunchy stuff.
1. Ghandi said it best, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” That means, you have to set the example. If your wife is constantly telling the kids to eat their veggies and they see that daddy doesn’t eat them, eventually they’re going to turn to her and say, “But daddy doesn’t eat his.” And you know what happens then. So, set the example! You’ll have more peace with the Mrs. too. Trust me on this one, I know what I’m talking about.
2. Since many kids tend to see anything healthy as the enemy, and ultimately your goal is to get the enemy to infiltrate their little tummies, try camouflage! They can’t fight what they can’t see so you might try doing things like adding spinach to the meat mix for a meatloaf or to hamburgers. Juice some carrots, but add them to the juice of a very sweet apple or asian pear, or both. There are many ways you can hide the veggies and see your mission accomplished.
3. If you can’t eat ’em, dip ’em. My kids love ranch dressing! They actually prefer raw veggies to cooked ones but the only way they’ll eat them is with ranch dip. We’ve actually taken that a step further and I make a mean chicken, broccoli, pasta salad. They kill it every time and it’s so easy to make. You just get some chicken strips (if you don’t feel like cooking them, try Tyson pre-cooked chicken strips in the refrigerator section of your local supermarket), some raw broccoli, add a bit of balsamic vinagerrette, some may and a heaping helping of ranch dressing. That was one of the great things about being asked to serve on this panel was that I was already using the product… Hidden Valley Ranch dressings are a staple in my house. The Ranch Dressing travel-size cups are a great item for kids and school lunches. Definitely check out HVR’s selection HERE.
4. Did I mention already to set the example? One of the things you can do is find a dressing that works for you and helps liven up the flavor of those oh so droll veggies. Spice up the taste with an add-on the pleases your palette, like the Southwest Chipotle, Creamy Balsamic or Original Caesar (my daughter and youngest son’s favorite on salads).
Photo: flickr- kodomut
I have been compensated to participate in the Hidden Valley Ranch “Love Your Veggies” parent panel and throughout the year will be posting content pertaining to getting your family (and especially those kids) to eat their veggies. It’s for a great cause and it’s all about healthy habits but in the interest of transparency and full-disclosure, these posts will always be clearly labeled.